JP Morgan “Greed Washing”: Sponsors Orwellian TV Advertorial to Tout $2 Million of Charity Spending

The New York Times (hat tip Mary B) took note of a seamy JP Morgan effort at brand burnishing:

In a gambit to promote its charitable work — and maybe polish its image, which has suffered since the financial collapse in 2008 — JPMorgan Chase is financing and sponsoring the “American Giving Awards,” which will be televised by NBC on Saturday night. The two-hour show, with Bob Costas as host, will profile recipients of Chase donations, will be book-ended by Chase commercials and will regularly remind viewers that the whole event is “presented by Chase.”…

It’s a “‘greed-washing’ campaign to score P.R. points,” countered Lisa Graves, whose publication “PR Watch” investigates company public relations campaigns. The $2 million in donations that will be featured on Saturday “are a drop in the bucket compared to its ultra-lush benefits for bankers who profited richly from the swaps that undermined our nation’s financial security,” she said…

The five charities to be feted on Saturday have already benefited from Chase’s largess without a television extravaganza. Over all, the bank says it gives away $150 million a year; more narrowly, through a program called Chase Community Giving, it has been giving money and visibility to small charities across the country for the last two years…

Five charities that received money from Chase in the past were selected to compete in public for a new $1 million grant, with voting happening via Facebook. The winner will be revealed on the telecast Saturday; the other four will receive smaller grants.

Chase claims this show is to raise the profile of the charities and help them raise more money.

The problem is that any argument that this JP Morgan TV extravaganza has much to do with altruism fails when you do the math. JP Morgan is touting $2 million of spending. If you are serious about giving to charities, one of the very first things you look at is the efficiency of your donation. You get the charity’s financial statements and look at how much money goes to the cause, as opposed to fundraising and admin.

I’m not current on TV advertising rates (they were $110,000 per 30 second spot in the first quarter, and that is the weakest period of the year for ad spending). JP Morgan bought eight 30 second ads. Even if we assume JP Morgan got better rates than that (Saturday is a low viewership night, and they probably negotiated some sort of volume discount on top of that), the cost of buying airtime was large relative to what went to the charities. And that’s before you get to the expense of producing the program.

And let’s not forget, quite a few JP Morgan employees will get compensation in excess of $2 million this year. It would be more straightforward for JP Morgan to do a prime time TV show about why they think that’s warranted, since increasing pay levels appears to be every large banks’ prime directive.

It appears the entire financial services industry is on an advertising kick, this in a year when profits are flagging. I wonder how much of it is defensive, image-burnishing spending.

Now this sort of “let’s really pretend we are doing something other than PR” messaging is taking place on multiple fronts, as Dave Dayen reminded us last month:

I wrote a piece for The American Prospect about something I dubbed “camo-washing,” an effort by big banks to prove their attentiveness to the foreclosure crisis by going out of their way to compensate military families for violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. These violations included egregious behavior, like moving to foreclose on active duty military while they served overseas in combat. And the banks moved swiftly to deliver mounds of restitution to those military members and the entire military by extension, promising to hire veterans and giving out free homes to those wronged by the scandal. As I said at the time, “Banks are hoping that by compensating members of the military for improper foreclosures, they can boost their public image and avoid responsibility for the broader foreclosure crisis and the truckload of violations committed against civilian borrowers.”

JP Morgan rolled over early on, as Dayen noted in his story, “JPMorgan Settlement Continues Their Persistent Attention to Just One Type of Foreclosure Fraud” (if you want to see another type, read “How Chase Ruined the Lives of People Who Paid Off Their Mortgages” for an example):

So in the final analysis, not a single military member lost their home, those that were wrongfully evicted got their home back free and clear, and those ripped off got all the money back for their ripoff plus thousands more, and a reduced interest rate, and maybe a job..

All of this underlines the extreme measures JPMorgan is taking to rectify the situation with wrongful foreclosures of active duty military. And it also underlines the fact that next to nothing is being done with all the wrongful foreclosures on everyone BUT active duty military. The banksters aren’t stupid. They know that the military is one of the few institutions left in this country with a modicum of authority. They can screw over virtually every other customer they have, but when they extend that to active duty service members, they must bend over backwards to make it up to them.

This is a well-executed strategy by JPMorgan and other banks to mollify military personnel, in the hopes that nobody will notice that the same practices employed against them extended to everyone else who has a mortgage with them.

So having done right with one customer group because there were serious ramification if the bank didn’t make amends (violations of the Servicemans’ Civil Relief Act are criminal), JP Morgan has the nerve to tout how nice it has been to soldiers. This is an ad you apparently see if you access a Chase account online, and I’m told similar promotions are running in the media:

JP Morgan should be ashamed of its conduct towards servicemen. Instead, it is trying to spin actions it took only after being caught out and facing serious consequences as proof of its munificence and public mindedness. It’s tantamount to Big Tobacco trying to pretend in the wake of its landmark settlement that it cared about the health of smokers.

One of the basic principles of marketing is that fundamentally misrepresenting your brand in your advertising messages will ultimately backfire. JP Morgan will prove to be a case study of how long it takes for that to occur.

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  1. Richard Kline

    Isn’t that special of the suits at JiPpyMo, ‘giving’ some of ‘their’ money, to cuddly-fuzzy ‘charities.’ So that we’ll know just how much JPM ‘cares’ for those ‘disadvantaged.’

    I don’t want them to ‘give;’ I want them to be taxed for a reasonable contribution to the good of their society. (That’s after they are prosecuted for the frauds to which they have been party. After they’ve been broken up into smaller shops. After most of those shops are closed for manifestly inadequate capital to their actual loses. After their execs are banned for life from securities dealing.)

    I don’t want JiPpyMo to chose who they give ‘their’ money to: it’s for the public via our own clean government to decide what the tax contribution of this outfit is designated to support.

    I don’t want JiPpyMo to be getting credit for giving us ‘their’ money—since they owe all of us far, far more in the outright money gifts, incredible financial guarantees, free profit interest rate arbitrage, forebearance from any sane accounting mark on their book, and (so far) get-out-of-prosecution FREEEE handling by the regulatory and justice system. What JPM is doing is giving us back the thin shaving on a penny’s rim of all the money and opportunity costs that they’ve heisted from all the rest of their society, while pocketing billions and distorting our government.

    And while they’re getting on with all of that, I really want JiPpyMo to shut the fuck up about how much they ‘care’ and how righteous they are for ‘caring.’ Because they have to really insult every cell in our being from our intelligence on down to believe we buy one milligram of that crystal green persuasion. Keep your money crumbs for now, boys, and shut up; you’re bugging us.

  2. bmeisen

    Shouldn’t they be sponsoring the professional wrestling circuit?

    They sponsor the JPMorgan Corporate Challenge in Frankfurt once a year: several thousand bank and banking related professionals run a course through city streets ending up in tents in a lovely park where they mingle and snack into the wee hours of the morning. No doubt some wrestling going on there.

  3. F. Beard

    “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”

    “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:1-2

    1. mansoor h. khan

      F. Beard,

      The islamic version says: Do both –

      1) give and be noticed — so you will set a (positive) example for other


      2) give and NOT be noticed — this part will validate the first part and help to clean your intentions

      mansoor h. khan

  4. Sleeper

    So here we are again –

    Clearly many of the banks were and are criminals.
    – violations of the Servicemans’ Civil Relief Act are criminal.

    So any inkling that Eric Holder’s DOJ will prosecute ?

    This ought to be a slam dunk after all what jury wouldn’t convict a bank that took advantage of US military personnel serving in combat ?

    1. Jimbo

      >So any inkling that Eric Holder’s DOJ will prosecute ?

      You have to realize that Eric Holder is a marionette who only responds to the directions of one particular string-puller. And we know that that guy, from his record, has zero intention of interfering with bank predation in any way.

  5. ambrit

    Just so much going on in this post!
    First: “..the military is one of the few institutions left in this country with a modicum of authority.” Ahem, just how does the army suddenly end up one of the branches of government, pray tell? Sounds like the Praetorian Guard choosing the new Emperor. And which part of the army; the generals, contractors, Promise Keepers? Certainly not the rank and file.
    Second: “…violations of the Servicemens Civil Relief Act are criminal…” And simple domestic, non servicemens fraud is not? The banks and their lackeys haven’t shown fear of prosecution over fraud before. What has shifted that they suddenly ‘get religion’ now? Did the Judge Advocate General send some representatives on over to the banks headquarters to read a secret Patriot Act Riot Act provision to the CEOs?
    Third: “…fundamentally misrepresenting your brand in your advertising messages will ultimately backfire.” How is this a misrepresentation? Most people I speak with on ‘the street’ have a keenly developed sense of the absurd when considering the plethora of ‘special awards programs.’ The advocational and meretricious nature of awards in general is taken for granted. Most just want to know who will be performing; is the entertainment any good. To continue the Ancient Rome motif; Panum et Circuses in Prime Time.
    Fourth: “…five charities …. were selected to compete in public…” Competing charities, really? When the banks themselves have abandoned ‘free markets’ and ‘competition’ in their own business models, they want to impose these Shibboleths on helpless little charities! When did any self respecting charity go public with the gritty work of funds raising? (The behind closed doors kind at any rate.) Funds raising Marathons are more entertainment/infotainment binges than anything else.
    Finally: “…they should be ashamed…” A bank, ashamed!? Whoeee. This wish flies in the face of experience. Bank corporations are the last ‘persons’ I’d expect contrition from. Treat them like the sociopaths they are is closer to the truth.

    1. William

      Are you daft? Since when is an “institution” necessarily a “branch of government?” With that kind of lead-off, I’m certainly not going to waste any time trying to fathom the rest of your arguments.

      1. ambrit

        You have succintly made my point for me. I am often too obtuse and obscure for my own good.
        I do hope you are not in thrall to the Vienna School.

    2. psychohistorian

      Thanks for the insightful comment which I want to build on.

      Yves said at the end:
      “One of the basic principles of marketing is that fundamentally misrepresenting your brand in your advertising messages will ultimately backfire. JP Morgan will prove to be a case study of how long it takes for that to occur.”

      What I don’t understand is how JP Morgan is misrepresenting their brand. What is their brand? Don’t they really have a public one and a private one and aren’t they totally inconsistent with each other?

      Does backfire mean that someone or multiple of JPM folk will be prosecuted and go to jail? Not likely in our current world. At the most JPM will have to spend additional money to brainwash the public further and they will pick the pockets of the same public to do so.

      They are no more affected by shame than the pet rocks they brazenly sell to the public treading water. Shame is for little people that are deluded by faith.

      I think Yves still, like many of us, wants to believe that the financial industry that used to display a fig leaf of social conscience will magically return to that semi moral and ethical path…..GFL with that.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        It is much more basic. The ads say they are nice guys that care about their communities when they are predators (as discussed much longer form in ECONNED and in multiple posts about mortgage abuses).

        1. psychohistorian

          You know of course good woman that I want to believe you but my faith in that portion of humanity is gone. We may rail here with our textual white noise about the clarity we see of the JPM predation of our society but I continue to see the rest of the world convinced of their lies through the agnotology (as you introduced me to) of their marketing and advertising.

          I assuredly want to be proven wrong but daily I experience an America still believing in and having FAITH in the elite puppets of the global inherited rich. It has been 500 years since the Enlightenment and yet, since the 1950’s we have a rabid faith based polity and economy under the motto of IN GOD WE TRUST instead of a hard fought, maintained and evolved polity and economy as envisioned by the founding fathers in the original American motto of E PLURIBUS UNUM (Out of many, one).

          Yours in peace

    3. Yves Smith Post author


      We’ve argued the path to criminal prosecution in other posts. The others take some doing, although we think they aren’t as hard as defenders of Obama administration complacency would have you believe. By contrast, the SCRA violations really are open and shut. And in particular, JP Morgan ADMITTED to them in Congressional testimony!

      And like it or not, soldiers are still respected in this country. You can respect the professional competence of the military without being happy the way the last two Administrations have deployed the troops.

      1. ambrit

        I must defer to you about the POTENTIAL for prosecution. Yes, all the required pieces of a successful case are available. What’s missing is the political will. That’s what I suggested by asking what changed the banks minds on fraud aimed at servicemen and women. Thus my jibe about the ‘secret’ Patriot Act provision. Could the Feds call the servicemens related fraud ‘terrorist’ activity for undermining the morale of the troops and thus jail the head bankers?
        As for soldiers, as compared to the Military Industrial Complex; the actual, real people in uniform are fellow human beings. Thinking, feeling people know this, and make the allowances for it. I follow the logic behind the maxim: “War is an extension of politik by other means.” The real responsibility lies with the government that sends the troops out to ply their trade. Right now, we are witnessing a confusion between and conflation of the two. The American founding fathers were very wise to ban the use of the military in domestic affairs. Dedicated soldiers would agree with that sentiment. Only fools and ideologues would embrace the ‘other way.’ I’m with the soldiers on this one.

        1. LucyLulu

          FormerRedcoat wrote: The American founding fathers were very wise to ban the use of the military in domestic affairs. Dedicated soldiers would agree with that sentiment. Only fools and ideologues would embrace the ‘other way.’ I’m with the soldiers on this one.

          If I’m not mistaken, a core principle drummed into soldiers’ heads during boot camp is to always follow orders immediately and unquestioningly. This is presented as an issue that is critical to both their own safety and that of the rest of the troop. I’m far less sure that they bother instructing soldiers on the founding fathers’ views on domestic military deployment. I’m open to correction if I’m mistaken however, having never served in any of the armed forces to have first-hand experience.

          I’m afraid the tendency towards “following orders” would prevail, just as they have with the police. Even without indoctrination, its a natural human tendency to submit to those seen as in authority.

          1. ambrit

            My Dear LucyLulu;
            On the ground grunts are indeed inculcated with the ‘military virtues’ as part of basic training. large part of this, I’m told, is to overcome the quite natural aversion to danger that makes much combat action slow, hesitant, and downright terrifying. (I haven’t been in service either, this is second hand from people I’ve known who have seen the Elephant.) The officer corps however has to be capable of judgement and reasoned decision. This requires thinking and insight. The relative performances and attrition rates of the Soviet and German armies during both World Wars bear out the superiority of the ‘independant minded’ decision making process in warfare. A great proportion of military coups throughout history have come up from the ranks of junior officers and non coms. So, if you are going to turn those programmed servicemen and women loose on the domestic populace, you need a willing junior officer corps to give the orders at the ‘pointy end of the stick.’ I suspect that those ‘White Shirts’ at #Occupy Wall Street weren’t there just for the fun of it. Reports suggest that there was push back from the street level ‘boys in blue.’ Perhaps outside ‘superiors’ had to be bussed in to stiffen the backbone of the wavering local coppers.
            Your apprehensions concerning the unleashing of the soldiery upon the commons are legitimate. The turning point was, I believe, the switch to a ‘Professional Army’ after the debacle of Vietnam. As others have suggested, the reintroduction of a broad based draft would not only strengthen the social fabric of the nation, but also dilute and neutralize the pernicious effects of the ‘professionalization’ of our army. Nor would such ‘national service’ have to be strictly military. Something like the New Deal TVA, NWA, Artists Project, CCC, etc. are going to be needed for numerous reasons in the decade ahead. (If the present Administration was smart it would already be working on programs like these, and so outflank the #Occupy protesters and confound the Irrational Right.)
            (FormerRedcoat. Whoee! I never thought of that one. Thanks for the chuckle. You and yours have a Merry Christmas.)

          2. Procopius

            “FormerRedcoat wrote: The American founding fathers were very wise to ban the use of the military in domestic affairs.” Errr… There’s a little confusion here. “The American founding fathers” didn’t ban the use of the military in domestic affairs. I don’t think the idea occurred to them. That was one of the reasons why there were so many denunciations of “standing armies,” which certainly were feared for their potential uses as agents of tyranny. It wasn’t until 1878 that this was done by passage of the Posse Comitatus Act, which was actually done to free the Klan to pursue its terrorist agenda in the Southern states. The Bush administration has taken the first steps to undoing this by establishing a military command to provide “assistance” in case of “civil disorder,” and I feel quite sure that Obama, under cover of the secrecy of his administration, has continued to develop that command. Which is why we rarely hear about it. Also note, the Navy and Marine Corps are not regulated by the Act, but only by a Department of Defense regulation.

  6. F. Beard

    Launching the report in Paris, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said “The social contract is starting to unravel in many countries. This study dispels the assumptions that the benefits of economic growth will automatically trickle down to the disadvantaged and that greater inequality fosters greater social mobility. Without a comprehensive strategy for inclusive growth, inequality will continue to rise.” from,3746,en_21571361_44315115_49166760_1_1_1_1,00.html [bold added]

    The cause of the inequality is the government backed/enforced counterfeiting cartel, the banking system. Common stock as a private money form is an IDEAL “strategy for inclusive growth”.

  7. Elizabeth Cook

    BP has been running ads since their disaster wiped out our Northern Gulf coast and making thousands ill with the corexit and oil. BP making it right, spreading their filthy money to all of the corporate media, national and local. THey also contributed millions to state governments for tourism and seafood marketing. This is a failure of capitalism, and an obvious reason why this so-called free market doesn’t work. No matter what these criminals do…they can advertise otherwise.

  8. David

    “It’s important for JPMorgan Chase to support Dr. King’s legacy because of the important values he committed his life to promoting, such as equality and equal opportunity, and quality education for all. People like Dr. Martin Luther King are what made America what it is today. The values he espoused are the values that JPMorgan Chase also tries to stand for around the world.”

    — Jamie Dimon, Chairman & CEO
    JPMorgan Chase & Co.

    1. craazyman

      Sounds like it’s a version of “Let not the right hand know what the left hand is doing, else it will arrest thy work and render thee unto contumely, yeah. And it profiteth not ye to have both hands know thy mind. For only thy Father knoweth, and he smiteth thee who would be of a double mind and taketh away thy pile and turn thee as into a servant.”

      Must be something they picked up from the Gospel According to Mammon, Book Viii, vs. 24-27.

  9. Middle Seaman

    It all looks like members of a violent gang demanding respect. JPM doesn’t see the contradiction between its PR and its practices. Like all hoodlums they need respect and will go to great lengths to get it.

  10. Norman

    All things considered, the simplest solution: take the 5 T.B.T.F. heads, put them in the stock[s] down in Zuccotti Park, for a little soul searching, (providing they have a soul), but if that doesn’t cause the “boys” to straighten up & fly right, then, it might be pertinent to give them a “hair cut” with that great instrument the French used way back when. I’m sure that will get the attention that’s sorely needed, as well as wake up the rest of the 99% as to what this country is turning into.

    1. René

      Paul Craig Roberts said that Ron Paul would be able to “only” wake up 20% of the Americans. But that’s all what is needed when taking into account the Pareto Principle.

      I can’t wait for the WORLDWIDE Spring offense of OWS to start…

  11. timotheus

    Excellent post to alert us to this scam. The comparison to the tobacco industry is spot on: they have long pursued sponsorship of all sorts of artistic and charitable endeavors as a way to brand-wash and present themselves as decent folks/good neighbors with a “controversial” product rather than peddlers of death. Tobacco control advocates have to campaign constantly to get charities and artists to refuse this blood money, and the first reaction is, What’s wrong with taking it? But there is a deeper ideological message: government is bad and should be drowned in the bathtub, but private charity will fill the gap, just leave it to us rich guys. This is also behind the new hustle at many big-box chain stores: asking you to contribute to their charity at the cash register. This is not about charity, only getting you to associate the corporation with some worthy cause so that you forget they are extracting profits from your purchase. I watched some of the show, and it was sad to see Judy Shepard of the Matthew Shepard Foundation being utilized by these cynical creeps (notwithstanding some good lines).

    1. F. Beard

      But there is a deeper ideological message: government is bad and should be drowned in the bathtub, but private charity will fill the gap, just leave it to us rich guys. timotheus

      Banking DEPENDS on government so to drown government would be suicide for the banks. As for the corporations, without the government enforced/backed counterfeiting cartel to borrow from, they would likely have to “share” wealth rather than steal it via loans from the counterfeiting cartel.

  12. Jeff

    The only appropriate mass marketing I can think of relative to the crisis would be Gillette marketing a new line of products — Guillotine blades.

  13. 2little2late

    JPMC and the other Too Big To Be Anything But Dicks have never been accused of staying awake in Tact101 class. Their remedy for Penn State’s athletic department would be to donate thousands of Trojan brand slide-ons and then shrug their shoulders like, “What?”

  14. kravitz

    Chase logic, explained.

    “You fought for our right to foreclose on your slacker neighbors, and charge fees for every little thing. Thank you. Let us buy you off so we can do it some more to those Other People who didn’t serve. Thank you. Thank you for your service to us.”

    1. F. Beard

      “And btw, don’t get disabled since we need to shut down Veteran’s Hospitals for the sake of austerity.”

      The only good thing about banking (and greed itself) is that it is self-destructive.

      1. mansoor h. khan

        F. Beard,

        “The only good thing about banking (and greed itself) is that it is self-destructive.”

        The quran says that the creator is mercy. His finger prints are over the creation. Badness (lies) will always self-be destructive. Goodness (truth) will advance it itself.

        Mansoor H. Khan

  15. Glen

    Classic “turd polishing” of the highest order.

    But the American people have shown themselves to be attracted to bright-n-shiny turds for quite some time now.

    1. ambrit

      Dear ebear;
      Sir, or miss, I for one am good and tired of this continuing barrage of anti-ferengitism flooding the com net. Get a life! Learn Kzinti, study desert ecology, herd Nerfs, whatever.

  16. freedomny

    Chase is famous for talking out of both sides of their mouth. And Dimon is a master at PR manipulation – hence all the articles that came out after 08 promoting that Chase is the healthiest of all the big banks because Jamie had the “foresight” to realize that subprime loans were toxic. Couldn’t be further from the truth – he just came to the dance party too late. And most who worked at Chase at that time know it was a guy named Bill Winters who really sounded the alarm. Winters left after having a “tiff” with Dimon.

    Banker supporting OWS and ethical capitalism

    1. F. Beard

      Banker supporting OWS and ethical capitalism freedomny

      You do realize that banking is INHERENTLY unethical when practiced in a government enforced monopoly money supply for private debts?

      1. freedomny

        Well FBeard – I work for a bank that doesn’t lobby. For votes. What’s your point?

        Banker supporting OWS and ethical capitalism.

  17. LucyLulu

    Me thinks that an attorney representing a client who had been wrongfully foreclosed upon and lost their home, like the servicemen, would take full use of this opportunity being presented by JPM. JPM Chase is setting precedents for settlements considered adequate to compensate for the loss of one’s home. Let’s see, free paid off home, cash, jobs, reduced interest rates. Surely many homeowners would be willing to settle for the same deal.

  18. skinla

    I noticed something crazy in this article. Your blog has been infiltrated by CHASE. Right below the article criticizing Chase there is an AD promoting CHASE (possibly automatically posted by Google Ads). I have saved the screen print and here is the text:

    Provide out troops with added value and savings.
    Chase Military Banking gives servicemembers and veterans the enhanced fetures, added saving and extra value they deserve… LEARN MORE”

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      My view is these guys are stupid enough to waste their ad dollars supporting the opposition.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Yves, the sad truth is that PR propaganda works like a charm. History shows that the public really buys it. Why else would they spend so much money on it? It pays, believe it. Very high dividends come with mega-advertising to correct your bad image: the public thinks you’re more wonderful than ever.

        Really, it’s tragic, isn’t it? The public is programmed.

      2. freedomny

        Sorry Yves…with great respect, but I just don’t agree. I understand the need for money in order to keep your site alive…and it is a great site…but there is something to be said about being genuine and authentic.

        P.S. donated to you. Also donated to Elizabeth Warren’s campaign. Got a thank you from her. Maybe you won’t need certain advertisements if you acknowledge.

    2. Kokuanani

      I believe Yves included that ad in her diary INTENTIONALLY, as an example of the turd-polishing Chase is attempting.

  19. Ray Phenicie

    Maybe the likes of JP Morgan Chase Manhattan can forgive some of the debt that has driven the Detroit Symphony into the ground recently. The building of magnificent new digs for the Orchestra in 2003 left $54 million in unsecured debt until the likes of JP Morgan Chase stepped up and offered their squishy vampire squid hands to the group.

    from a recent news article about the debilitating strike -granted the finance issue was only one of many that drove things down but it was the was the heavy handed-per ?Wall Street ethics-handling of dictates to the Symphony management that really grinds my golden ear.

    “Musicians’ repeated offers to meet DSO management halfway were rebuffed, as was an offer to submit outstanding issues to binding arbitration.”

    “The recession was blamed for a decline in endowments from corporate “philanthropists” such as the Kresge and Ford Foundations. At one point, when a settlement seemed close, the banks holding DSO’s debt threatened to call in a $54 million construction loan. Building Max Fisher Hall — and the resulting indebtedness to Comerica, PNC, JP Morgan Chase, Charter One and Bank of America — was one of the dubious business moves that hurt the orchestra financially.”

    This excerpt from Wikipedia would be almost humorous if it did not delineate so very well the exact nature of the squid characteristics of the beast.

    JPMorgan Chase, in its current structure, is the result of the combination of several large U.S. banking companies over the last decade including Chase Manhattan Bank, J.P. Morgan & Co., Bank One, Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual. Going back further, its predecessors include major banking firms among which are Chemical Bank, Manufacturers Hanover, First Chicago Bank, National Bank of Detroit, Texas Commerce Bank, Providian Financial and Great Western Bank.

    1. Ray Phenicie

      Here’s some more of the scoop on the tentacles of Chase, Mahatta, Sterns, Morgan, National Bank of Detroit:

      From an article about a former CEO of the DSO who was apparently the driver behind the ruinous financial aspect of the glitzy real estate deal mentioned above:

      It was when Fisher asked him to run the real estate
      associated with his vast investments, such as the swanky Riverfront Towers, that he couldn’t say “no.”

      And when he saw the potential to redevelop the west side of Woodward Avenue around Orchestra Hall while serving as vice chairman for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, he was sold on being part of Detroit. Cummings is noted for splitting his time effectively between civic and for-profit pursuits.

      “Max used to peek his head in my door from time to time, and he would look at me and say, “P or F?’ ” Cummings said.

      “He would want to know if I was working on “P,’ which was philanthropy, or “F,’ which was for-profit.”

      At the DSO, Cummings oversaw development of the Orchestra Place complex, including the 170,000-square-foot office component and the Max M. Fisher Music Center.

      Fisher and Cummings also teamed up on the land across the street from Orchestra Place.

      The two bought the site bound by Woodward Avenue, Mack Avenue and John R with the potential for a new development.

      Their initial vision was for retail and residential, something later built. The Ellington Lofts brought 52 units and 13,000 square feet of retail, including the only Starbucks in Detroit; and the forthcoming Whole Foods Market to be built on the site, owned by Cummings.

      During the strike the DSO musicians posted this on their web site.

      DSO’s leaders have strong connections with the League of American Orchestras, major foundations supporting the DSO and the bank group holding DSO’s $54 M debt related to the building of the Max M. Fisher Music Center. We feel this web of connections has greatly impacted this contract negotiations.

      Since the bondholders were paid off in December, five banks have been holding $54 M of Detroit Symphony debt related to the building of the Max M. Fisher Music Center. Is the bank group just sitting patiently, holding this debt without remuneration? Or has a deal for repayment already been struck between the DSO and the bank group which won’t be announced until DSO musicians have agreed to a contract, keeping alive the threat of future bankruptcy hanging over the orchestra’s head.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Ray, this is the right perspective.

        Compare this with those whose money may be sullied, yet give a fortune to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and such. Are they forgiven their transgressions?

  20. lambert strether

    Wait, wait. Does anybody here still watch TV?

    If so, why? Turn it off, and get your neighbors and friends to turn it off. Cancel the cable subscription and cause a rentier pain. It’s exactly the same logic as “Move your money,” which took awhile to get rolling, but roll it did.

    “Move your eyeballs” — because that is, after all, what they’re selling.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      But lambert, do you realize how many people would go mad with anxiety or boredom if they turned the TV off?

      Remember *Network*. No, no, TV is the cheap soporific, the cheap morphine, it dulls the pain. Not many Americans will voluntarily suffer anxiety, boredom, pain.

      “The fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are [addicted].”

  21. Procopius

    As a retired service member I’ve been puzzled by the whole story of foreclosures on military families. When I as on active duty thirty years ago, every installation had a Legal Assistance Office, which provided free legal services to all service members. That was mostly things like wills, but included representing the member in disputes with creditors, and certainly included things like checking leases or mortgage documents when a service member was being assigned to a new post. If it went to court the member had to hire his own lawyer, but up to that point the military lawyer would fight just as hard for her as a hired civilian lawyer would have. In addition, I can’t imagine any military commander not getting involved to help one of his troops who was being harassed by a collection agency or foreclosing bank. There should have been a huge outcry over this years ago. How is it possible there wasn’t? Sure, some troops are just too ignorant to go to their command for help, but this lack of aggressive push-back by the chain of command is a violation of everything I ever learned in the Army about leadership and the leader’s duty to his subordinates. You have to take care of your troops if you want them to take care of you — especially if you’re going to ask them to charge into the flaming valley of death. A large part of this story is still being suppressed, in my opinion.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Procopius, ever since our foreign policy and wars have been at the behest of *Uncle Henry*, nobody in charge gives a damn about our soldiers, for the Boss set the tone: Our soldiers are NOTHING but pawns in the game, they are to be held in the utmost contempt.

      That’s why there’s Blackwater/Xe and all the rest. Our enlisted troops are paid to serve the Masters, to suffer, be ruined, and die.

  22. Steve

    This ad is a contrary indicator. In fact they must be spending less in total but are trying sleight of hand to bring attention to one program where they are spending more. This is not real information. What they give should be considered relative to some standard, as a percentage of assets, earnings, revenues, or as an increase or decrease from the past adjusted for acquisitions. For example, how much did JPM, Wamu, and Bear Stearns give in 2006 versus how much JPM gives now? Also, how much is from Trust accounts, the Foundation, or other sources versus how much is from the banks own resources? It is smoke and mirrors.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Steve, are you looking for logic, for facts?

      The disciples of Goebbels rule: the Big Lie: it’s all propaganda, all the time. It works, Q.E.D.

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